Suddenly they hear a voracious reptilian screech, and the grass in front of Muzgash parts violently as a ferocious beast comes leaping straight at him. A large hooked talon lashes out, slicing open his plain monk’s tunic, and it tears across his muscular chest.
“Ooohh fuck!” screams Rangrim as this half-feathered, half-scaled, carnivorous bipedal predator lands among them, brandishing a long, narrow jaw filled with dagger-like teeth, large clawed hands, and most fearsomely its sickle-like talon upon each of its feet.
Rangrim, taking the beast unawares, reaches for its outstretched tail and yells frantically, “Get him Muzgash! GET HIM!”
Muzgash throws open the gates of battle by swiftly lunging at the feral creature, connecting his fist across the scaly face with a hefty right hook, and then, just as quickly, he throws a left hook which slams against the scaly jaw and then he arcs his arm sideways, catching it with a swift elbow across the chops. Before it can even let out a painful cry in response to the three hits, Muzgash throws his knee upwards and it hits the bottom of the beast’s lower jaw, snapping its mouth shut forcibly.
The beast reels its head in a daze, its eye suddenly catches sight of Rangrim and it whips its tail sideways, pulling Rangrim with it.
“Whaaa!” screams Rangrim as the sudden movement sends him tumbling to the ground, crushing the grass beneath him.
Muzgash springs forwards, slamming his open hand directly into the neck of the distracted creature. He immediately stiffens his grasp, constricting his thick fingers around the beast’s downy neck.
It tries and fails to give out a cry as Muzgash’s hand cuts off its windpipe. The beast attempts to lash out at Muzgash’s arm, but it fumbles as Muzgash roughly pulls his catch to the side, causing it to trip and fall to the ground.
“Muzgash! Look out!” shouts Rangrim after spitting out a mouthful of grass and dirt.
In a flash Muzgash smashes his fist into the exposed throat of the creature in his grasp. With that, its throat collapses within, and the beast feebly gasps for air and then falls quiet. Muzgash whirls around to see another reptilian attacker charging in from behind.
Just as it’s about to collide with Muzgash it takes an aerial kick to the side of the face. It tumbles on its side and Rangrim is over it, throwing a series of punches into its open belly. The beast screeches angrily and cocks its foot back and throws it directly into Rangrim’s stomach with incredible ferocity and speed. Rangrim flies back several feet before crashing upon the soft ground once more. The beast quickly hops up and eyes the fallen half-orc menacingly.
“Oohh.” moans Rangrim as he shakes his head and gets to his hands and knees.
Just as the reptile is about to make his pounce upon Rangrim, Muzgash briskly steps closer to it and sends a fist flashing through the air. The creature feels the strike against the side of its face and it whips its head to peer at Muzgash.
“RAAAAAHHHH!!” it screams as it raises its head and gives its reptilian call.
Four reptilian shrieks instantly ring out from the border of the burnt, each one almost identical to the other.
In that moment, Muzgash sent another swift punch directly in its exposed throat. His right fist swings in another follow up punch and cracks against the side of the reptile’s face.
The creature reels back, hissing loudly, spewing blood from its open mouth. It lunges forward with both its hands outstretched in fury. It attempts to lash out at Muzgash, but Muzgash sends two fists slamming into the creature’s open palms. Its hands bend unnaturally backwards and it dips low to compensate.
Muzgash cocks his hands back to follow up with another poised strike, but suddenly two other carnivorous bird-lizards appear out of the grass next to Muzgash and make towards him.
Muzgash turns to the side, twirls his arms in marital preparation and sends a right handed fist hurling straight into the snout of one of the lunging predators.
The other newly arrived bird-lizard separates and leaps upon Rangrim, driving him to the ground with all its weight.
“RRWAAHH!” screams Rangrim as the beast pins him to the ground and takes a snap at his face with its salivating jaws. Rangrim manages to grab hold of its top and bottom jaw in defense.
Muzgash on the other hand, turns his head to the side, watching intently as his left fist swiftly bashes into the forehead of the bloodied reptilian attacker. It reels back and shakes its head wildly in an attempt to shake off the pain of the attack. Its eyes suddenly roll into the back of its head and it slumps against the ground, blood bubbling out its gullet.
Muzgash shifts to the side, positioning himself between the reptile frantically scratching at its shattered nose and the other still attempting to feast on Rangrim.
Muzgash drops low and whips his outstretched leg across the ground in a circular arc, ripping out grass and roots, and knocking the feet of the two predators out from under them, sprawling both to the floor. Muzgash followed through with a swift kick to the bird-lizard’s stomach that was attacking Rangrim.
Rangrim leaps up, and grabs hold of his attacker’s legs. But suddenly, Rangrim’s face turns to concern, “Muzgash! Noo!”
Muzgash sends him a questionable look, not understanding the alarm. Then a claw rips violently across Muzgash’s back, forcing him to wince in pain. Muzgash can feel blood trickling down his back.
Rangrim takes a step to aid his ally but the prone beast he was holding on to strikes at him with a sickle-talon, slicing a gruesome gash across his upper arm, it gets up in a flash and leaps upon Rangrim once more, but Rangrim is able to hold it back by the neck with the hand of his unharmed arm.
The third bird-lizard with the shattered nose leaps up and attacks Muzgash, but he is able to duck to the side and dodge the attack, and the creature flies past him. Muzgash sees the beast that struck him in the back, he lunges straight at it and in an instant he is beside it. He ducks under its snapping jaws, and drives his elbow into its sternum, it shrieks in pain, and Muzgash is gone again. He darts sideways to the bird-lizard that leaped past him. He hops onto its back and kicks it in its head, which whips sidelong and slams into the ground. The last bird-lizard looming over Rangrim, Muzgash kicks hard between its scaly legs. He then spins around and springs back to the bird-lizard on the ground and drives his fist straight into its already battered dome. The creature goes limp as Muzgash delivers that final fatal blow. The two other beasts hiss wildly and charge at Muzgash, but he roars into his hands as he claps them together with such speed and strength that it boomed as loud as a thunderbolt, shattering the air. The two beasts pause their attack in response to the terribly loud sound, giving Muzgash enough time to retaliate once more. He leaps up and does the splits in midair, slapping his feet against both of their jaws simultaneously.
The two beasts reel back from the relentless attacks, and Muzgash hops to the side, putting ten feet between himself and them. The one that was attacking Rangrim is bleeding profusely from the mouth, and pink foamy spittle is dripping from its scaly lips and dangling tongue.
That one looks to Muzgash, then to Rangrim clambering to stand up off the ground, and it decides to leap upon Rangrim once more, leaving its carnivorous companion to deal with their other prey. The bird-lizard companion, the one not quite as injured, dashes at Muzgash with incredible swiftness, it leaps at him, attempting to force him to the ground, but Muzgash stands his ground. It drives a deadly kick into him, which catches along the inside of his thigh.
Muzgash cocks his right arm back and throws it forward but the beast’s long neck bends to the side and Muzgash’s fist hurls past its target. Muzgash hears, “Rrraauugghhh!” as the other bird-lizard bites into Rangrim’s arm.
Muzgash’s predacious attacker attempts to take a snap at him but he pushes himself aside and ducks into the tall grass. The beast follows suit and a sudden object comes hurling out of the grass and smashes into its face. Muzgash’s fist catches the bird-lizard in the right side of the snout. It reels its head in pain and Muzgash sends another swift punch with his right fist right into its exposed neck as he dashes past it. He stops besides the beast attacking Rangrim and throws an upward fist furiously into its underside and it tumbles to the ground upon the thick grass.
After taking the attack, the bird-lizard raises its head and gives off a loud call of distress, blood discharging from its mouth as it does so. It feebly gets up and dashes off into the safety of the grass.
Muzgash looks over his shoulder and sees that the other remaining predator has vanished as well.
Muzgash reaches for Rangrim and pulls him to his feet. He pushes Rangrim along and hastily heads for the rocky outcropping still some thirty feet away.
They safely reach the formation of rocks, which jut sideways out of the otherwise flat sea of grass. They clamber up the various stones to a higher vantage point and rest upon a flat area of the rocks. There they take time to bandage up their wounds. Rangrim’s arms have both been quite injured, a dismal outcome for a monk.
After they take some time to recuperate from the recent attack, Muzgash leaves Rangrim and climbs higher up the formation in hopes of getting a better view of their surroundings. Muzgash is surprised to see a rather large opening atop the formation. Muzgash peers inside but it is too dark to see very far in.
“Hey, what’s up there?” shouts Rangrim from below.
“Don’t know yet.” Muzgash shouts back.
Rangrim painfully clambers up to where Muzgash is standing and takes a look at the opening.
“Want- want me to follow you?” he asks uneasily.
“No.” states Muzgash, to Rangrim’s relief.
Muzgash reaches for his rucksack and pulls forth his rope and begins tying it around his waist, “You stay here Rangrim, if shit goes down, let me know, and pull me back out.”
Muzgash pulls out his sunrod and moves to climb down, but the light from the sunrod reveals a makeshift series of steps that allow passage to walk down. Muzgash turns back to Rangrim and tells him once more to stand guard, and then he heads inside the opening.
He goes a couple dozen feet before the path levels out into an open chamber. Muzgash catches a glimpse of several silhouettes at the end of the chamber and he raises his sunrod high overhead. The light shines brightly and uncovers the sight of several skeletal remains resting in an orderly row on each side of the chamber, sitting upright atop simple wooden chairs. Muzgash slowly walks closer as the light illuminates the full extent of the chamber, and he notices a heavy wooden chair in the center of the two rows sitting at the far edge of the chamber. Atop the chair is a skeleton clad in a rusted chainmail hauberk. A great dusty beard hangs off the chin of the skull, covered in cobwebs and mildew.
Muzgash steps close to the skeleton and peers down at it unemotionally. The light of his sunrod reflects off something hidden under the rotting beard.
Muzgash gently lifts the beard with the back of his hand, revealing a well crafted beaded necklace. Muzgash spots a dusty stone in the very center of the necklace. As he rubs the dust off with his thumb the stone glows faintly. Muzgash yanks on the necklace. The decrepit neck of the skeleton breaks against the force and the skull sways awkwardly and tumbles to the ground and rolls along the stone floor, halting against its thick beard some five feet away.
Muzgash peers at the stone intently and he feels a sense of subtle energy against his fingertips. He realizes that this stone must be one of the Reauxzetta stones.
Muzgash takes one last look at the skeletal occupants of the room after stashing the necklace. He turns and makes his way back outside where Rangrim is patiently waiting.